Latinx students at Patrick Henry High School – Part 1

Hispanic Family Liaison Teddie Lee and PHHS Latinx Student Council Manager Esefania Soriano-Aguilar in front of the current display of Hispanic Arts.

This article was written by Susan Curnow Breedlove, Northside historian

Hispanic students of the Henry “phamily” are rooted in the countries of Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Teddie Lee is the Hispanic Family Liaison and convener of the Latinx Student Council. He provides a safe place and a resource for Henry students whether they are documented or not. Many students identify Teddie as the most helpful staff person in the building, one stating that “he always finds resources and encourages us to do our best.”

A well-attended Latino Family Night, planned and led by Council students, convened on October 24. Attendees received information regarding educational success and resources as they dined on food prepared by a parent.

There are currently 130-150 Latinx students throughout Henry High. Teddie Lee and the Latinx Student Council draw them together as a family. There are 25 student members of the council. They have set up a selection process within themselves as to which two students will represent their class, making a total of eight as the representatives for the council. The selected student manager is Estefania Soriano-Aguilar.

The Latino Student Council began during the 2015-16 school year with 10-15 students. The group determined their goals and how to make their plan come to fruition.  Teddie Lee’s role has changed from coach to advisor as the group has become more self-directed over the past five years.

Current council activities include educating Henry students, staff and visitors about Hispanic history and culture through hallway displays. Plans are in process for 20 members to make a trip to Washington D.C. during spring break, through affiliation with American Council International Students (ACIS), an international organization based out of Chicago. The traveling group will meet with a Henry High graduate, Jose’ Munoz, who lives in D.C. and works as National Communication Manager for United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led network in the U.S. With over 400,000 members, they fight for justice and dignity for all immigrants. Fundraising is being conducted by the Henry Latino Student Council for the trip through bagging groceries at Cub Stores, selling pizzas, and selling scrumptious tacos on “Taco Tuesdays.”

Hispanic/Latino students comprise 15 percent of the Henry student body.  They are well represented in such groups as the Green Team, Robotics Team, soccer, volleyball, football and more, as well as being active in their council activities. I interviewed eight Latinx Student Council members; here is one of the questions posed to them and some of their responses.  Further questions and responses will be in the next Camden News issue.

What do you like about the Latino/Latinx Club at Henry?  The value of this Phamily within the Henry High Phamily is illustrated by some of these quotes:“I can relate to anyone in the group.”  “Everyone believes and wants the same thing.”  “Something that I like about this club is that all of us come together so that people know that we are here. There’s so many Latinos/Hispanics yet they’re hardly seen here.”  “We can support each other and be a small community. This group has many activities (at Henry) and I’m able to feel like a part of something.”  “We get to work together and represent the Latino culture.”  “I like many things about the Latino Student Council starting with having a group that I feel supporting in.”  Karla shared, “What I like most about this club is that I am able to be a part of the change that we are making in Patrick Henry. I like that we are giving ourselves a voice for our school to hear and to know that we matter, too. I also like that we do many activities and interact with each other in many ways and circumstances.”Iban also enjoys the club activities and believes that it helps keep their cultures.